It has been over 13 years since he entered Bollywood with Jism (2003). Now, as John Abraham revels in the success of his new film, Dishoom, he insists he doesn’t have the time to think about how people perceive him. Here, he talks about his career and his passion for football.
Do you think you have gotten your due in Bollywood?
I don’t waste my time thinking about whether the industry has been fair to me or not. I get along with people who have faith in me. I am not going to give a rat’s a** about people who don’t have the time for me, or have faith in me. But I will take a bullet for those who do. I am a loyal person.
In our industry, everybody talks about everyone else [behind their backs]. Do I have the time to listen to that c**p? No. I need to do my own stuff and improve myself. I don’t think negatively about anyone. I don’t think people are that important. I feel no negativity, and that’s my biggest advantage. If I start introspecting about whether people have been fair to me or not, then I will feel elated sometimes, and depressed at other times.
When you say you are still “rooted to your middle-class background”, are you referring to the way you think or the way you behave?
Both. I live like that. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I am a leading commercial actor. I can afford to do the things that everybody else in the industry does. But I choose not to. Varun (Dhawan) and I chatted about this, and he told me, “What I love about you is that you don’t belong to a film family, and are so simple and different.”
I think the industry appreciates the way I have positioned myself. We coexist beautifully. My closest friend in the industry is Rohit Dhawan (director). He is an industry kid, and we love each other to death. He thinks I am crazy, weird and that I do my own s**t. That’s the way I am.
Have you slowed down in terms of the number of films you do?
Yes, I have, because I am discouraged. I am not finding good stories. I wish I could get better scripts. As Sajid Nadiadwala (film-maker) told me, “You will get a good film because you’re probably choosing smartly.” To ensure longevity, you have to choose smartly. You don’t want to overexpose yourself.
All actors have their style of approaching things. So, I am waiting in the wings, watching the circus go by (laughs). I think I should start doing [things] now, rather than thinking so much all the time (smiles).
What are the plans for your football team?
I have just increased my stakes in my team. I love football, but it is a costly venture; a lot of money goes into it. But I am passionate about it. I also give credit to Nita Ambani for being the driving force behind football in this country. I am proud that she has been elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee. That’s fantastic.
You are also busy with a lot of non-film work. Isn’t doing business as risky as doing films?
I think you need passion to do business. In fact, in management there is a term, ‘the higher the risk, the greater the profit.’ But there are few people who take the risk. Let me put it simply, if five guys run at breakneck speed to the edge of the building, they will stop short, and only one will take the leap and jump.
I am probably the guy who will jump. I know I can fall to the ground and get hurt, or I will roll over to the other building to reach my destination. So, I will take that leap because I am not scared. I love the fact that I have no fears.
Are you interested in business because you have studied the subject?
Yes, I think that is the reason, partly. I have done my MBA. The degree helps in my decision-making skills. But to be a business man you don’t have to do an MBA. You need to have certain skill sets, and the biggest skill one needs to possess is honesty, and I am honest. When people see your honesty and work ethics, then they want to put their money on you.
The ex-CEO of my football team cheated me and also cheated another club. He also borrowed money from 10 different people. People ask me, “Why haven’t you done anything about it?” I respond saying, “What am I going to do? It is his karma.” By the end of it, people will know that I am honest, and if someone is wrong he or she will he get caught.
You turned producer with Vicky Donor. How is production going?
It’s going slow, but it is a deliberate move because it is important to deliver good content. As an actor, if I am available to all the producers, I also want to be available to my production house.
With my production house, there is a certain set of ethos and philosophy that we follow about the kind of movies that I want to do. It is important to get the films right. So, I spend a lot of time researching.
Is there anything in the pipeline?
I am will be co-producing a sequel to Force (2011) with director Vipul Shah. As far as my company is concerned, we are working on a couple of interesting scripts. My style of working is different. I may sign someone who is not working today because I will get done exactly what others may not be able to do.
In our industry, we sign obituaries quickly and lose faith fast. I do not think that is fair. There are many fantastic actors [in Bollywood]. I will probably sign some of them and try to make a good film.
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